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Review–Connect To

Connect To (2011)

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Family
Length: 17 min
Director:  Sam Nuttmann
Writer:  Eric Collin Campbell
Stars:  Wonder RussellLisa LeVan

Have you ever sat next to a crazy person on the bus, one who just won’t shut up and let you get some shut eye, but is too cute to punch in the face? Me neither. Homeless people are gross. But in Connect To, homeless people are adorable, and make you want to give them hugs.

Laurie, played by an understated Lisa Levan, is running away from life. On a bike. Her husband is a cheating asshat, and she is at her wit’s end, ready to try anything to get away from it all. Including sitting next to a crazy person on a bus for umpteen hours.

There’s one seat left and it’s smack dab next to Whitney, played by a bat-shit crazy Wonder Russell. Whitney is an infant. A mass of tics, obsessions, and general ridiculousness. She won’t shut up, insisting on singing along with Pachelbel’s Canon on her Ipod at three in the morning. When Laurie asks her politely to stop, Whitney gets straight-up weird, and mildly pissy.

Who’s the crazy one here, though? Laurie has her own issues, and she spills the beans to Whitney about her failed marriage. It triggers some sort of genuine sisterly emotion in Whitney, and paves the way for the two women to bond.

We know that they are running away, but where are these women running to? What do they hope to find? It’s kind of like when you ran away as a kid: you packed your Wonder Woman lunchbox with all of your earthly goods and hit the road, with no real thought to where you would end up, all you knew is that you didn’t want to be at home. Connect To is that kind of road trip to nowhere. But our runaways do discover some important truths along the way. Like the fact that you find friends in odd places. And that the difference between running away and running to is all just a matter of perspective. Oh, and the finer points of using handi wipes. Did you know you can use them as a pillow in a pinch?

Lisa Levan’s understated approach as Laurie works well through the majority of the film. She genuinely seems like a jilted, powerless housewife on the lam. And when she begins to warm to Whitney I totally feel it. Where the approach doesn’t work as well is where Laurie loses her shit. It’s so wan I have trouble caring that she’s upset.

Wonder Russell is one big mass of crazy as Whitney. It’s fun to watch every little nutty nuance that crosses Russell’s expressive face, but to quote Kirk Lazarus  in Tropic Thunder:

“Everybody knows you never go full retard.”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, right? But I do think Whitney would have been more engaging if Wonder had not done such a studied job of portraying the genuine crazy, and let us in on the joke a bit.

The entire film seems just a little muted. As if we need to whisper and turn the music down out of respect for the other passengers. I would have enjoyed something bigger.

Also, I would have liked it more if the women had the proverbial “Golden Fleece” in their sights–a concrete goal that, in the end, turns out not be the thing they really needed after all. I know it’s an ancient device, but I like it. Because it works. It gives us a foundation to build the ridiculousness on. As it is, Connect To seems more like an acting exercise than a genuine narrative.

Take another road trip movie for example, Due Date, with Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis. It’s preposterous, over the top, and completely unrealistic. Both characters are caricatures, bigger than life, and completely unlikable as human beings. And yet we totally care what’s going on with them. It’s fun.

Connect To doesn’t have the strength or punch of a film like Due Date, but it’s a great little short. The characters are well defined, and we have a definite beginning, middle, and end–a rare thing for an indie at this level.

Nothing jumped out at me as being out of place as far as directing, editing and music was concerned. Connect To is a good, complete product–again, a rare thing.

So watch Connect To. And next time you sit next to that crazy, talkative, homeless person on the bus, don’t move to another seat. It could be Wonder Russell.

Okay, you should still probably move to another seat.

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. That’s cool that you do these and cool of filmmakers to have the sense of humor to have their work analyzed by someone who tells you straight out that they’re gonna tear it apart. Constructive criticism is important – and you’re honest and not all that mean here… This article is also hilarious. You had me at “homeless people are gross… homeless people are adorable.” Glad I wasn’t drinking coffee or this computer would be Done… Ms. Russell and Ms. Levan are good actresses – the former had some really strong moments in the film “This Is Yours” and the later gave a great comedic performance in the play “Proof” at the Odd Duck Theatre recently. Good luck actors! Good writing D.D.

    • dilettante douchebag

      Yeah, most of these guys are good sports. Some have not been. I’ve had people ask me to take down a review after they realized it was not glowing. They obviously were not paying attention to what it is I do.
      Reviewing at this level is difficult. Being utterly mean is hilarious, but it’s not necessarily constructive. These are not seasoned professionals who should be ridiculed for putting out a shoddy, lazy product, and who should be expected to take the heat. Indie film makers at this bottom barrel level are in a learning process. The only thing they really need a good ribbing about is taking themselves too seriously and imagining themselves to be at a higher level than they are.

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